The British Dental Association (BDA) has called for smoking cessation funding to be ring fenced by the government.
It has spoken out on the issue following news that around one in four councils have dropped their free stop-smoking services. This is despite cases of mouth cancer becoming increasingly prevalent.
Russ Ladwa, chair of the BDA’s Health and Science Committee, commented: “We know that smoking is the cause of the majority of oral cancers and it is an avoidable risk, so the last thing we should be doing is withdrawing services from people who want help to quit.
“Investing in stop-smoking services ought to be a mandatory rather than an optional service given the high prevalence of oral cancers and their poor mortality rates.”
Oral cancers are one of the few forms of the disease for which survival rates are falling, with the number of people dying from the conditions rising by around ten per cent over the last decade. Cancer Research UK statistics show that 2,100 people died of oral cancer in the UK in 2012 alone.
Smoking accounts for close to two-thirds of all oral cancers, which is why the BDA believes protection for cessation service funding is vital. The organisation suggested that the current cuts being applied to local health services mean the government’s aim of preventing ill health and early deaths by transferring responsibility for public health services to councils is not being fulfilled.
At the end of December, the BDA stressed the role that dentists can play in helping to combat oral cancer. The organisation’s chair Mick Armstrong called for a joined-up approach among all of the UK’s health services to tackle the disease.